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Westminster College students recognized at Student Symposium on the Environment

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Posted on Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Several Westminster College students earned awards at the 14th annual Westminster College Student Symposium on the Environment, held in December, which featured projects, research, service work, internships and artwork with an environmental focus.

Nearly 100 students—the largest number of student presentations in the history of the symposium—from Westminster, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Chatham University, Youngstown State University, Thiel College and Allegheny College participated in this year’s hybrid symposium, which featured both in-person and virtual components. More than 100 students and guests attended the in-person and socially-distanced portion on Dec. 2 in Westminster’s McKelvey Campus Center.

This year’s Westminster awardees included:
In the Best Photography category, sophomore Claire Mock of California, Pa., advised by Dr. Kerri Duerr, won with her photograph “Caterpillar in Stream.” She also earned an honorable mention in the Environmental Project category for her video and poster on “Rehabilitation of Western Pennsylvania Mitigated Wetlands” from work done during a summer internship with Dr. Robert Whyte of California University of Pennsylvania.

The video with “Buzz” award went to senior Garrett Martindale of Pittsburgh, advised by Brad Weaver and Dr. Patrick Krantz, for his video “Westminster College’s BuzzFeed Cluster Students Detail the Importance of Bee Behavior.”

Junior Chris Dombrowski of Natrona Heights, Pa., senior Olivia Droese of West Jefferson, Ohio, senior Mark Eminhizer II of Bellefonte, Pa., senior Anna Grimenstein of Bridgeville, Pa., and senior James Gilbert of McDonald, Pa., advised by Dr. Ann Throckmorton, earned honorable mentions in the Environmental Research category for their video and poster on “Reckless Behaviors in Blue-leg Hermit Crabs (Clibanarius tricolor) Increase with Exposure to Microplastics.”

Seniors Ethan Brady of Clymer, Pa., Trevor McCabe of Avon, N.Y., Braden Minteer of Volant, Pa., Sammie Parsons of Pittsburgh, and junior Tyler Sportelli of Natrona Heights, Pa., advised by Dr. Helen Boylan and Krantz, earned honorable mention in the Oral Presentation category for “Japanese Hops along the Little Neshannock Creek and the Effectiveness of Steam Treatments.”

An honorable mention in the Photography category went to freshman Bella Buettner of Cranberry Township, Pa., for “Where the Sky Meets the Ocean,” and the photography Artistic Expression Award went to junior Stacey Badman of Kintnersville, Pa., for “Fungi.”

Students from regional institutions were also honored.

Allegheny College student Sarah Schmidt won for her Environmental Project “Regulations at Scale in Ecological Economics.”

Youngstown State University student Erin Garrett won for her Research Presentation “The Use of Benthic Macroinvertebrates to Access Water Quality in Tributaries of The Mahoning River.”

Jennifer Sabol from Chatham University won the Oral Presentation for her research “Exploring the potential for native shrub assemblage restoration in northeastern forests with high whitetail deer and invasive shrub.”

The Video Viewer’s Choice Award went to Olivia Postlewait from Thiel College for her research “Medicinal Uses for the Fungi of McKean County, Pennsylvania.” As of the morning of Dec. 2, her video had registered 335 views, 55 likes, and 18 comments.

With over 20 submissions of photographs that highlighted environmental themes for the symposium’s new submissions category, photo gallery and contest, the main presentations were broken up into four categories: Environmental Project Posters, Environmental Research Presentations, Oral Presentations and Photography.

The virtual element featured a dedicated YouTube channel for video presentations, and viewers and students were encouraged to comment, interact and explore presentations virtually.

The 15th Annual Student Symposium on the Environment will be held on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022.

For more information about the Student Symposium on the Environment, contact Dr. Helen Boylan, director of the Center for the Environment, at or 724-946-6293.